Friday evening, the Milton Conquest boys' club, sponsored by Regnum Christi, attended a mass and exposition of The Blessed Sacrament at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Milton. The night was organized by Marvin Duarte, leader of the Milton Conquest club.
I attended the evening with my wife, my son-in-law, and my two grandsons. There were about thirty Conquest boys present, all wearing their club t-shirts emblazoned with the Conquest crest proclaiming the very catchy motto: "Forged in Virtue, Born to Serve."
So there they were in the two front rows, attending a mass on a Friday night when most other boys were either watching television, poking away at computer games or roaming the streets. As I stood and watched Father Paul and Father Thomas LC begin the mass, I could not help but look around at the large crowd in attendance, at this first Friday of the month celebration. And it was not difficult to notice the looks of curiosity, and slight anxiety in peoples' faces as I scanned the crowd.
It was also very refreshing to see the two front rows of benches taken up by young boys, some of whom were slightly fidgety, but who, for the most part, seemed very happy to be where they were. After all, attendance at a Friday evening mass is exactly the place to start the formation of our young Catholics. And therein lies the strength of the whole Conquest concept.
Most Friday nights, my grandsons can be found playing indoor soccer, listening to Bible stories and putting on skits related to those stories, praying a decade of the Rosary, and learning about the virtues which help young boys grow up to be reliable, honest and faithful Catholics, and strong, trustworthy citizens.
I beamed with pride as my grandson Justin helped bring the Offertory gifts to the altar, and bowed deeply and reverently as he handed the wine to the priest. Other boys served the mass, while another helped with the readings. After the mass, the boys had the option of going to confession and then sitting in front of the Blessed Sacrament. And as always, there was a snack served in one of the church halls.
As we left the church, Justin asked my wife, "Why does the priest mix water into the wine?" My wife answered,"The water represents us, the faithful at the consecration, as we too are united to Jesus in His sacrifice. Also, the wine represents Christ's divinity, and the water represents His humanity." I could see Justin's gleaming smile in the moonlight as we headed for the car. He had just learned some important things about the deeper meaning of the mass, and he seemed pleased to have that knowledge, now that he had the experience of this very special event in which he had participated.
The Catholic Church will profit in many ways from the formation of these boys through the valuable guidance of Conquest. Many will become more knowledgeable and more devoted Catholics because they have put in the time and effort to be closer to Jesus on a given Friday night in Milton Ontario, Canada, and in many other towns and cities across the country, and across the United States. And as we all know, Jesus does not forget those who spend time with him when most of the rest of the world is doing something else, especially on a Friday night, after a long week of school.
But probably the most important gain for the Church will be the new priests who come out of Conquest, forged in virtue and born to serve for the rest of their lives. And new priests there will be. You can count on it.
I have seen the light in their eyes and the hope which is springing up in their hearts, as they recognize the power of the Lord, and bathe in the unbounding energy of faith, hope and love.
Thank God for boys. Thank God for Conquest.